#6 North Carolina (10-2) vs. #18 Clemson Tigers (6-4)
The Tar Heels top out at No. 6 as Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA and Perfect Game all have UNC ranked No. 6 this week. Mike Fox has generally fielded a fundamentally sound club that tends to feature more slap hitters and doubles hitters more than the big power guys. This, combined with a pitching staff that is almost always outstanding at the 1-2 spots keeps them at the top of the ACC Coastal. For the past couple years, they've faltered at the plate or been so streaky that it really demolished their chances to go further in the postseason. I recall two seasons ago they were starting several of the guys in the lineup today, and they could not buy a hit at all. Those guys have grown up now, and the pitching is again strong.
Clemson and North Carolina have met 178 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 96-81-1 advantage in the series dating back to the 1901 season.The Tigers hold a 45-28-1 lead over the Tar Heels in games played at Clemson and a 37-14 lead at Tiger Field. Clemson also holds a 76-62 advantage in ACC regular-season games. Jack has a 31-25 record against North Carolina as Clemson's head coach.
The Tar Heels have won the last four games in the series, which is tied for their longest winning streak in series history.
All three games will be available live via webcast on ESPN3.
CU lost 2 of 3 to SC and defeated Holy Cross 16-4.
UNC's stats loook good, the doubles are downright scary even. However, these bats have been very quiet over the last 4 games, averaging just 2.75 runs per. Their pitchers don't need much more than that unfortunately, and this lineup is heavily LH. Again, we see that the lack of LHP is a potential bigtime problem for Clemson.
"We have more walks than strikeouts, which is always one of our goals," Fox said. "I think our guys look at the ball pretty well, which is very important. We have a little power in there. The last three or four games we haven't swung the bats well at all. I don't know what that's attributable to—you give the other pitchers credit. We're going to face lefthanded pitching out the wazoo, that's just the kind of team we are. Our lefties have to hang in there against good lefties."
Stallings has replaced longtime C Jesse Wierzbicki as a righthanded-hitting cleanup man in between the two lefties Moran and Stubbs, and he is off to a strong start as a result. Stubbs is a transfer from a small college in TN and has been even hotter than preseason 2nd team AA Colin Moran.
Tommy Coyle has made the transition from second base to SS, and the team has been generally solid, with a .978 fielding percentage. CU fields at .963.
The Tigers get Spencer Kieboom (.208-1HR-7RBI) back this weekend, and we badly need the extra bat. Phil Pohl (.421-3-17) will likely sit behind the plate in one of the games, but will DH otherwise. Attanasio will probably get PT in the OF instead of Boulware or Felder.
Shaffer has reached base in 19 of his last 23 plate appearances and is 11-for-his-last-15 at the plate. Shaffer has reached base five times in three of the last four games as well. He's leading the team with a .486 average, 7 doubles, 4 HRs and 13 RBI.
Basically the only two guys UNC needs to really be concerned about in our lineup so far are Pohl and Richie. Only 4 guys are even around .300 or better with more than 10ABs. Whats worse is that our leadoff guy (Brittle) has only worked walks of late, he's not even hitting.
Junior righty Michael Morin has all four of NC's saves with that wicked slider and filthy changeup. He has allowed just six hits, no runs, and no walks with seven strikeouts in 7.2 innings pitched over seven relief appearances. R.C. Orlan is also 3-0 with 14Ks in 13.0 innings, and has not yet allowed a run. Orlan has been the lefty specialist until this season.
"He's (Orlan) still mostly a two-pitch guy, but he's pitching with a lot of confidence right now," Fox said. "He's got that good live fastball that gets on hitters sometimes quicker than they think. He has been able to pitch in to righties, to keep them from diving out over the plate. His curveball has gotten better and he has been able to command it more. He throws all the time—he might be one of the most prepared guys we have because he really works on his delivery every day, and he never seems to not have his velocity when he goes out there, which I think is a credit to him."
David Haselden won the midweek start this week, which is where he may be best suited. He's delegated back to long relief this weekend. He's never going to be flashy or a dominant closer here, but he's perfectly suited to long relief. Scott Firth may be the next one to get a shot at a midweek or Sunday start (2.16ERA in 8.1 IP with 11K).
Daniel Gossett has looked pretty talented in the limited action he's seen, but the horses so far in the pen have been Firth and Campbell, the rest are hit/miss. We're not as strong in the pen as UNC. We need all 3 starters to at least get quality starts this weekend.
I don't see us taking 2 here, not even at home. I'm not scared of their lineup too much, aside from a couple hitters. Perhaps if we had a Lefty starter i'd pick us to win 2. I don't see us handling their starting pitching well at all and since we're not a smart team at the plate, I don't know that we can put up the 3-4 runs needed to win even if we did pitch great.